Upcycle Boutique Creates Revolving Markets
What do you get when a traveling sales wagon idea is combined with vintage clothes, food, wine, music and a lot of women with an eye for fashion? Upcycle Boutique hosts pop-up fashion events, the latest red-hot trend across the country. These are one-night-only happenings that sell exciting and innovative fashions and disappear the next day. The clothes and accessories, mostly carefully selected vintage wear for women and children, show up at different locations around Alameda. For one evening the group, run by three Alameda moms, sets up shop at a private house or a local business that sells complementary goods.
Alamedans Joy Johnson, Michelle Morgan and Sylvia Kahn are the brains behind the unique boutique. Their common love of fashion, upcycling and finding ways to support their kids’ school was quickly revealed when the women met through their children’s activities and school. Their first events were held in private homes of friends, but as word of mouth of the events spread, the guest list grew by tenfold practically overnight. Since then, they have added fashion scout and buyer Stephanie Rodriguez to the mix and have held the events at businesses such as Poppy Red, Perforce and Rhythmix Cultural Works. A portion of the proceeds from the pop-up events go to designated Alameda school PTAs and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Program, which helps homeless kids get access to education in Alameda schools. Upcycle Boutique organizers coordinate PTA fundraisers and provide invitations and promotions, the clothing collection, and clothing consultants for the pop-up event. The group even rings up sales.
Joy Johnson, who started Upcycle Boutique and owned vintage store Blue Rectangle (now Rocket Reuse), believes in the importance of upcycling. Ensuring more people realize the benefits of high-quality clothing, she wanted the boutique to offer a variety of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s styles while giving shoppers a fun experience. Party dresses and jackets in women’s sizes 2–18, and accessories such as purses, scarves and hats, can be found at most events, while seasonal items, such as Halloween costumes for children and summer wear, are available for a limited time.
As more people realize the advantages of upcycling fashion — higher quality materials that last longer, less landfill waste and lower costs — they also enjoy wearing unique-looking pieces that aren’t a part of cookie-cutter fashion.
Upcycling reuses a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. It is unlike recycling, which is when an element is transformed into another item by changing its content makeup. From the looks of Upcycle Boutique’s pop-up events, customers are doing their part to help the environment while enjoying the casual party-like shopping atmosphere.